Will you give information about Hz. Zaynab, the daughter of the Prophet?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Hz. Zaynab is a model in terms of being loyal and faithful to one’s family. The women in the world need to know her very much. We cannot say that she is known as much as she deserves in our society. Therefore, I will try to summarize her life. She is the oldest daughter of the Prophet (pbuh). She is his second child after Qasim. She was born 23 years before the Migration, when the Prophet was 30 years old.

She became a Muslim when she was ten years old, together with her mother Khadija. Hz. Khadija is the first Muslim among women, and Zaynab is the first Muslim among girls. She grew up together with her siblings Tahir, Ruqiyya, Umm Kulthum and Fatima, who were born within ten years after her birth. Helping her mother with housework and taking care of her siblings enabled her to have a good life experience at an early age.

All of the six children of the Prophet from Hz. Khadija were born before his prophethood, which started in AD 610. The responsibility of being an older sister in a blessed and good family, which became a happy place with six children in about twelve years, gained her great experience at an early age. The deaths of her two brothers, Qasim and Tahir, at a young age caused great grief in the family. Life matured Zaynab. Her quick maturation prepared her for marriage. She attracted the attention of Abul-As b. Rabi, her aunt Hala’s son, who often came to their house as a close relative. Hz. Khadija appreciated his nephew Abul-As for his honesty, sincerity, nobility and being a skilled merchant and loved him like his own children. Abul-As was a member of Sons of Umayyad through his father. The family of Abul-As asked Zaynab’s hand to marry Abul-As. Hz. Khadija had sensed this tendency before and was pleased to hear it. As the Prophet and Zaynab deemed it appropriate, she married him when she was probably fifteen years old. When she got married, her husband was not a Muslim. At that time, there was no decree forbidding a Muslim woman from marrying a non-Muslim man. It is understood that Zaynab explained Islam to Abul-As in a suitable style and encouraged him but he did not want to abandon the centuries-old belief of his tribe though he did not oppose the Messenger of Allah. The husband and wife loved each other and lived in harmony. Her husband did not interfere with Zaynab's religion. His wife tried to make him happy as a good wife, patiently trying to prepare him for Islam. She sensed that her husband probably did not want to leave the impression that he abandoned the religion of his ancestors because of his father-in-law and his wife and hence avoided embracing Islam due to “community pressure”.

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was sent to save all humanity from polytheism. However, it was his own tribe, even his relatives and uncle, who opposed him first. As the number of Muslims increased, his tribe transformed their opposition into threat and then into torture. The Prophet said, "The most severe torture was inflicted upon prophets." He began to be subjected to the torture informed by his hadith. They did not only torture the weak and slaves brutally but they also tried to humiliate the Prophet though he was from one of the most honorable families of Makkah and under the protection of one of their leaders, Abu Talib. For instance, they insulted him while he was praying in the Kaaba, putting a camel tripe on him while he was in prostration, torturing and dirtying him. When the Prophet had no sons left, Zaynab, who thought that it was her duty to support her father, took care of him, taking water to him and washing his face, trying to comfort him. We know that when Fatima, her sixth sibling, grew up, she told off the men who did such despicable deeds. Al-Azdi states the following:

“During the Era of Jahiliyya, I saw the Prophet. He said, "O my nation! Say there is no god but Allah so that you will be saved!" Some of the people around him spat on his face, some poured soil on his head and some cursed him. When it was noon, and a girl came with a water bowl in her hand. After washing his hands and face, the Prophet said to her: "Do not be afraid my daughter; they cannot harm your father." I asked, "Who is this girl?" They said, "Her daughter Zaynab." She was a beautiful girl.”1

Zaynab was pleased with her husband's behavior in the family. Since she loved and appreciated him, she patiently waited for the time for his guidance. When Zaynab was twenty years old, the death of her mother, who was the pride of the womanhood, was a great test for the Prophet as well as her four daughters. The death of the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib, who was his guardian, in the same year made that year a "year of sadness" for him. When the pressures increased and even the plans to murder the Prophet started, Zaynab’s beloved father, the Messenger of Allah, and her three sisters Ruqiyya, Umm Kulthum and Fatima migrated to Madinah but she could not go with them; she had to stay in the house of a polytheist husband in an environment where polytheists nursed a grudge against her. She was among the mustad’afin 2 (the oppressed, the helpless) who remained in Makkah. However, she resisted and continued to be loyal to her husband and to serve her family.

Her husband participated in the Battle of Badr in 624, the second year of the Migration. He was captivated by the Muslims who won a victory against the polytheists. Seventy polytheists among the notables of Makkah were killed in the battle. In addition, seventy people were captivated. As a result of the consultation with the companions, the Prophet decreed that the prisoners could be saved if ransom was paid for them. This captivity was the darkest night of life for Zaynab and her husband. They would later find out that this darkness would give way to light in the future. The universe was not ownerless. The predestination of the Almighty Creator, who did not leave the invocation of the hearts, the prayers of the oppressed and sincerity unanswered, hid many surprises. However, the heartbreaking state of that day was not something bearable for both the Prophet and his daughter Zaynab. We cannot even imagine the horror of it: On the one hand was the Messenger of Allah, Zaynab’s father, who brought true religion and justice. She was also devoted to the religion he declared, and she knew that denying him would lead her to eternal Hell. Moreover, he was the victorious commander. On the other was her husband, who was on the enemy side. To protect her husband would mean to oppose the Messenger of Allah, her dear father. In addition, it would mean to ignore her mother, who was heartily loyal to the true religion and her father. Zaynab's heart was in pieces in the face of the two sides. However, she finally did what she thought to be the most appropriate for her to do. In order to save her husband, she sent all the money she had, even the necklace her mother had given her during her marriage, to Badr. When the bundle of ransom of one of the prisoners was brought and opened, the Prophet's eye caught the necklace in it. When he looked at it more carefully, he said, "This is Khadija's necklace." He burst into tears. Let us try to imagine how his heart broke into pieces. On the one hand was the duty given to him by Allah. On the other was his son-in-law in the enemy camp. On the one hand was his beloved daughter and on the other his friends who fought against enmities in order to spread the true religion. In this dramatic situation, the Prophet said to his friends,

It is your right to receive the ransom. However, if you wish, you can return the memory of Khadija to Zaynab and release her captive free of charge; it is up to you.”

The Companions returned it. Meanwhile, the decree stating that Muslim women must not marry polytheists and that those who were married must leave them was sent down. 3 When the Prophet sent Abul-As, he asked him to release his wife Zaynab and allow him to return to Madinah with the deputies he would send to take her, and Abul-As accepted it. 4

In fact, Zaynab loved her husband as a spouse and human; her husband loved her similarly. However, he was the son-in-law of the commander of the enemy in the eyes of his fellow citizens; he had been forced by them for years to divorce his wife. He resisted bravely and said: "I do not think that I can find a woman like her from Quraysh." The Prophet sent Zayd b. Haritha to Makkah and gave him the duty of taking Zaynab back to Madinah secretly. Zayd grew up in the family of the Prophet and was Zaynab's older brother according to the rules of that period. The Prophet gave Zayd his ring to make Zaynab trust him. Zayd set off and finally reached Makkah and thought about ways of taking Zaynab to Madinah. A few days later, he met a shepherd. Upon his question, the shepherd said that he was working for Abul-As and that the sheep belonged to Zaynab bint Muhammad. Zayd said to the shepherd, "Will you give her what I will give to you provided that you do not tell about it to anyone?" When the shepherd agreed, he sent the ring to Zaynab with the shepherd. Zaynab recognized the ring and found out about the person who sent her the ring and his place. 5

Upon her husband's permission to send her when the deputy came to take her, Hz. Zaynab had made preparations for the journey in case she could set off any time, without revealing it. Abu Sufyan's wife, Hind b. Utba said to her, "I have heard that you want to go to your father." Zaynab said, "No, it is not true." Hind said, “O my cousin! Tell me the truth. If there is something you need for your journey, I have the means; I can help you. Do not hide it from me because hostility between men does not concern women." Afterwards, Zaynab said: "Although I was convinced that she was sincere, I did not tell her the truth because I was afraid."

Abul-As did not want to be seen; therefore, he sent his wife with his brother, that is, Zaynab's brother-in-law, Kinana as a precaution. Kinana would take her out of Makkah and take her to the place where where Zayd was. Zaynab was in a cage on the camel; Kinana was leading the camel. A few people from Qurayshis heard about, followed them and caught up with them in Dhituwa. Habbar b. Aswad, who was among the Qurayshis, hit the cage with his spear. Zaynab fell on a stone. Zaynab, who was pregnant, had a miscarriage due to the impact of the spear and her fear. 6 Although Kinana defended her sister-in-law bravely, it was not possible to continue the journey due to her wound. They took her to Abu Sufyan, who was the leader of Makkah at that time. Women from Sons of Hashim came to see Zaynab. Abu Sufyan handed her over to them. When Zaynab's migration became known, Abu Sufyan expressed the disturbance of the people of Makkah, saying that this migration would be a humiliation for them, and that it would be appropriate for her to escape all of a sudden, at least in a way that Makkans would not see. 7

When Zaynab rejoined her compassionate father in Madinah in a fatigue state, the Prophet said, "Zaynab is the best of my daughters. She suffered a lot of misfortunes because of me."

In addition, he appreciated his son-in-law Abul-As by saying, “Well done! He told the truth and kept his promise.” 8 Hz. Zaynab stayed with the Prophet in Madinah. 9

It will be useful to clarify some questions about this migration, in parenthesis, here:

The first question: Was it permissible for Zayd to bring Zaynab to Madinah with a journey that lasted for days as a man who was non-mahram? 10

The great imam Tahawi (d. 321/933) gave the following answer to this question: At that time, Zayd had not divorced Zaynab bint Jahsh yet. The institution of adoption of children was valid. Zayd grew up in the house of the Prophet. He was the elder brother of the Prophet’s children. 11 We know very well that an adopted child was not regarded different from a biological child at that time. We understand very well that an adopted child was not regarded different from a biological child from the fact that most of the people living at that time accepted with great difficulty the abolition of this deeply-rooted custom by the chapter of al-Ahzab to be revealed in 5 H (627 AD).

The second question: Urwa b. Zubayr reported the Prophet’s statement Zaynab is the best of my daughters. She suffered a lot of misfortunes because of meabout Zaynab from her maternal aunt Hz. Aisha. According to a narration, when Hz. Husayn’s son Ali Zaynul-Abidin heard it, he went to Urwa and criticized him by saying, According to what I have heard, you do not accept Hz. Fatima as best daughter of the Prophet.” Urwa answered as follows: “If everything in the earth were given to me, I would not accept to hide any right of Fatima. From now on, I will not report this incident again.” The following is clearly understood from Urwa’s answer: “Hz. Fatima’s superiority is so evident that everybody knows it. However, it is useful to know this statement of the Prophet about Hz. Zaynab uttered related to a certain issue. After narrating this statement, Shawkani explains the issue as follows:

"Being the best mentioned in this hadith is limited with the sentence “She suffered a lot of misfortunes because of me”. Being the best in the absolute sense is not meant.  It is very well known that what is narrated about the virtues of other daughters of the Prophet is less than one tenth of Fatima's virtues. We explained this in detail elsewhere.” 12

The third question: After Zaynab came to Madinah, the Prophet (pbuh) found out that she had lost her baby in her womb due to the blow; he sent men to punish the murderer of the baby, Habbar, as retaliation. However, those who went could not find the opportunity to kill him. Afterwards, Habbar announced that he became a Muslim. And the Prophet forgave him. 13

Sometime before the end of the 6 H (628 AD), Abul-As passed through the land of the Muslims while returning from Damascus with his trade caravan. A small unit of Muslim border guards caught him. In the evening, some news spread in Madinah: The Muslim guards seized the trading caravan of the Makans with their men and goods near Madinah. Abul-As was the head of the caravan. Abul-As, who was an unbeliever of the people of Makkah, with whom the Muslims were in a state of war, had no right to life. Hz. Zaynab was worried that he could be killed and had a very bad night. He went to the mosque for the morning prayer (fajr) and when the Prophet was about to lead the prayer, she said loudly from the women’s part in a way that everybody in the mosque could hear, “O Muslims! I am Zaynab, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah. Know it well that Abul-As is under my protection." After the Prophet finished the prayer, he turned toward his Companions and said, "Have you heard what I heard?" When he received the answer "Yes", he said he had just been aware of Zaynab's attempt and added: "By Allah, know it well that even the most modest of the Muslims can give protection." 14 Then, he went to his daughter and said to her, "Take care of this person you want to protect but do not let him touch you because you are not halal to him." 15

The Prophet sent the following news to the guards: “You have absolute right to booty; it is your legitimate property, but return the goods of Abul-As if you agree.” Abul-As was offered to convert to Islam but he refused. Moreover, he wanted his goods. He said, “I would not want them if they were mine. However, they are entrusted goods; I have to take them to their owners in Makkah.” The tolerance of the Muslims saved the goods of the people in the caravan as well as their lives. Abul-As returned to Makkah to settle accounts with his customers. After he settled the accounts and the people said they received their goods, he declared that he became a Muslim based on his own free will. He said, "If I had declared that I became a Muslim in Madinah, they would have thought that I embraced Islam to save my life. The owners of the goods in Makkah would have claimed that I did not protect their goods and that I had misappropriated the entrusted goods. That is why I declare this decision now." 16 Then he migrated to Madinah. It was about six months before the Treaty of Hudaybiyya.

The Prophet handed Zaynab over to Abul-As based on their previous marriage without deeming a new marriage contract necessary. 17 However, there are also narrations stating that he married them off with a new mahr and marriage contract. 18 We can reconcile those two types of narrations by saying that they renewed their marriage. Thus, the two spouses who loved each other and who were loyal and honest to each other as well as to other people rejoined after a long separation that was quite painful for both of them. Years of patience, love, loyalty and sincerity were accepted by God Almighty and their longing resulted in reunion.

Zaynab had a son named Ali and a daughter named Umama. I have not found any information about when the children arrived in Madinah. They might have migrated with their mother but their names might not have been mentioned. Ali died when the Prophet was alive but there is no exact date of his death in resources. 19 It is reported that the Prophet prayed while Umama was on his shoulder and that he placed her on the ground when he was going to prostrate. 20 Hz. Ali married Umama afterwards due to the advice Hz. Fatima gave to him before her death. He had no children from Umama. When he was martyred, Umama was his wife. Hz. Zaynab could not get rid of sufferings, especially the disease caused by the impact of that spear. Unfortunately, the reunion of Zaynab and her husband did not last long. It lasted only one year. Hz. Zaynab died in the 8th year of the Migration (630 AD) when she was thirty. Hz. Aisha's nephew, Urwa stated that her illness had continued since she had a miscarriage as a result of the spear impact during the migration, and that was why everyone called her a martyr after her death.21 Hz. Zaynab passed away in 8 H (630 AD) at the age of 30. The Prophet (pbuh) gave his loincloth to Sawda and Umm Salama, who washed her dead body, to use as a shroud for Zaynab. The Prophet (pbuh) himself led her janazah prayer.22 He wept next to her grave. Then he entered the grave sadly and came out with a smile. He said, "Thinking about the weakness of Zaynab, I prayed to Allah Almighty to reduce the trouble of the grave, and He accepted it." 23

Her husband, whose real name was Laqit, was known with his nickname Abul-As and was known for being very devoted to Makkah. As a matter of fact, Abul-As settled in Makkah, which was conquered in the same year, after the death of his wife. 24 Abdullah b. Abbas and Abdullah b. Amr b. As narrated hadiths from him. He died in the month of Dhul-Hijjah 12 H, four years after his wife. 25 It is stated that he was martyred in the Battle of Yamama, which took place during the caliphate of Abu Bakr. 26 May Allah be pleased with them. May He continue their good behavior in our new generations.


1. M. Y. Kandahlawi, Hayatus-Sahaba, Divan Yay. 1980, 1/330 from Tabarani (Haythami 6/21). Two more incidents are reported here from Bayhaqi and Tabarani about her.
2. an-Nisa 4/75.
3. The following is stated in verse 10 of the chapter of al-Mumtahina:: “…They are not lawful (wives) for the Unbelievers, nor are the (Unbelievers) lawful (husbands) for them. But pay the Unbelievers what they have spent (on their dower)…”
4 al-Mawsuatul-Arabiyya, 10/515.
5. M. Y. Kandahlawi, ibid, 1/462 from Tabarani (Haythami 9/213).
6. M. Hamidullah, İslam Peygamberi, 1/164, İstanbul, İrfan Yay. 1972; M. Y Kandahlawi, ibid, 1/461 from Tabarani (Haythami 9/216).
7. M. Y. Kandahlawi, ibid 1/461 he reports from al-Bidaya 3/330.
8. Muha al-Mubarak, al-Mawsuatul-Arabiyya, 10/515
9. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, 2/296
10. It is narrated that the Prophet sent another Companion whose name is not mentioned together with Zayd: Imam Ahmad, Musnad 6/276; Ibn Hisham 2/294-295.
11. Shawkani, Darrus-Sahaba fi Manaqibis-Sahaba, p. 280-281, Damascus, 1404/1984, tahqiq: Husayn b. Abdullah. He states that this information exists in Tahawi’s Mushkilul-Athar 1/44-46.
12. Shawkani, ibid, p.281.
13. M. Hamidullah, ibid, 1/164.
14. Shawkani, ibid, p. 281 from Tabarani and Ibn Ishaq.
15. Shawkani, p. 282; M. Hamidullah, 1/165
16. M. Hamidullah, ibid; Shawkani, p. 281 from Hakim, Mustadrak (2/236) and Ibn Hisham (2/302).
17. M. Hamidullah, 1/165; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, 8/33
18. Abdulghani al-Hanbali, Juz’un fihi Zawaju Abil-As b. Rabi’ bi Zaynab bint Rasulillah, p. 15, tahqiq: Musaid Salim, Beirut, 1423/2002, in Liqaul-Ashril-Awahir bil-Masjidil-Haram, no:38, majmua:4.
19. Balazuri, Ansabul-Ashraf.
20. Abdulghani al-Hanbali, ibid, p.14.
21. M. Y. Kandahlawi, 1/461, from Tabarani (Haythami 9/216); M. Hamidullah, 1/164.
22. Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, 8/36.
23. Ibnul-Athir, Usdul-Ghaba, 5/467, Cairo, 1280.
24. Balazuri, Ansab, p. 400, tahqiq M. Hamidullah.
25. Abdulghani al-Hanbali, ibid, 19, 22.
26. ibid, p.19.

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